The Queen of Smoke and Mirrors

Submitted into Contest #101 in response to: Write a story that involves a reflection in a mirror.... view prompt


Drama Sad Fiction

I close my eyes as I take a draw from my cigarette, deeply inhaling the sweet mix of tobacco and toxins from within it. When I open my eyes I see a reflection in my vanity’s mirror. 

She is a stranger to me. 

The only thing we have in common is our name, Elizabeth, which we go by Beth for short. 

From the blonde waves that flow down around my face, to the dramatic lashes, and bright red luscious lips that enhance my dolled up face, some of those who have known me for the last two years (since I graduated high school) as a waitress at North Star Bar & Grill would say I am so much of a bombshell that I’d give Jean Harlow a run for her money. Too bad life had to go and pull her pin. Sometimes I wish life would pull mine sooner rather than later.  Or rather it would have finished pulling it years ago.

I snuff out my cigarette into my bedazzled ashtray that has made its home at the center stage of my vanity and grab my cotton pads and make up remover to begin the slow process of taking it all off. Each pass that I take with the soaked cotton pad the more it reveals the truth that lies beneath. 

Every time I begin to see the real part of half my face, it’s like the scorching hot flames have surrounded me all over again. 

It had been a complete accident, or at least she had said it was. We were at a bonfire in honor of the football team winning that night’s game that took them to states. The Cougars were gonna go all the way that year. I was on the arm of Chase Holland. He was the dreamy quarterback that all the girls in our Senior class wanted to be in a relationship with. His ex, Natalie, had seen us and more than likely heard us flirting with each other, when she decided to walk past us. I didn’t see it coming when she harshly nudged me backwards towards the fire with her shoulder. I had tripped and landed with the back of my head against the flames. It was so sudden when it had happened, yet I can still feel every nanosecond that the fire had spread from the end of my auburn hair to the back of my head to then follow along the side of my face. At that moment it was like time had stopped almost. I could feel my skin burning, blood boiling, head throbbing, heart beating so incredibly fast.

Chase had acted quickly by wrapping his varsity jacket around my head to take the breath out the fire. I don’t think he ever did want that jacket back. I remember hearing my best friend at the time, Ana, trying to hold back sobs while yelling for help and to call 911 while others were saying they had to leave because they didn’t want to be caught under aged drinking, among other things. The screams that had escaped my lips that night still echo inside of me. 

There were multiple surgeries that had followed that night that came with a long stay in the hospital. They said I was fortunate the flames had somehow avoided my blue eyes. Natalie had actually come to see me, but I had screamed at her in anger to get out of the room. I remember seeing her sobbing as she had quickly backed out the door with the flowers she had brought still in her hands. 

My best friend Ana came with Chase to visit me, neither of them could look directly at me for more than a second while they spoke with me. It was soon after I found out they had been hooking up. I remember ignoring all of Chase’s calls. Why would I want to talk to him after finding out about him and Ana and more importantly, how could anyone be around me at the time when I couldn’t even bear to look at myself? 

I remember my Mom saying that I was lucky; it could have been much worse, but we definitely weren’t going to enter any more pageants in the future. 

My Dad had simply nodded in agreement with tears in his eyes. 

That’s one of the few memories I have of them both in a room together not arguing. 

I was incapable of showing my face at school again. 

I never did go to my Senior prom, despite already buying the most gorgeous flaming red gown. 

How ironic. 

My parents allowed me to do online schooling from then on with the requirement of attending therapy. I also didn’t go to my high school graduation, so the school had to mail me my diploma. 

Therapy is still ongoing though; I have yet to receive my diploma from that. 

When I get to the most scarred part of my face, I close my eyes, take a deep breath and slowly release it as I open my eyes to see the reminder stare back at me. 

Just like every time I have done before I instantly look away finding myself utterly repulsive. 

Darkly chuckling to myself I say out loud, “Thank heavens makeup exists.” 

I then reach up and begin to remove the wig from my head, forcing myself this time to stare at my reflection. Once off, I place it on my bedazzled wig head sitting adjacent to my vanity. 

I sigh and mutter to myself, “And last, but not least…” 

I remove the wig cap and stare at myself in all of my rawness. 

Without thinking, I trace the scar lines with my pointer finger, as if wishing I had some kind of magical power to restore it all. 

Once again I find myself sighing.

I wonder if it will ever get easier; living my life behind a mask of what many would describe as a beautiful one. If only they knew that some things are not what they appear to be. That beneath all of the glitz and the glam, there lies the hideous remains of a girl covered with scars.

Turning away from the mirror, I get up and make my way to my bed.

As I snuggle my pillow, I try not to think about how alone I am in my one bedroom apartment, so I can let sleep take me into its warm embrace. Yet, no matter how hard I try using cognitive defusion, I still become trapped within my thoughts. I still see myself as someone utterly repulsive, who will always be alone living a life of smoke and mirrors. 

July 08, 2021 00:52

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